Earlier this month, I attended the IAMERS meeting in New Orleans. You could have heard a pin drop and the room remained packed throughout the day.
Why? ....Let me share my thinking.
It just so happens that there is currently a pending bill in Congress that would require all independent medical equipment service firms to register and report to the government. Nobody wants more oversight and many see the bill as a way to restrict the activities of the independent service provider industry.
However, as the meeting progressed, it was clear to me that more over site is in everyone's future even though it may not be needed.
Many IAMERS members are ISO 9001 and some meet the ISO 13485 standard that medical firms must meet. It seemed to me that everyone saw these certifications as having value.
IAMERS has created a Best Practices Committee and is asking those volunteers to develop a Quality Operating Procedures program that meets the unique needs of health care service firms.
My takeaway was that IAMERS members are not afraid of compliance — but they also want a level playing field.
In my view, independent service firms are badly needed. Rural hospitals may be too remote for the OEMs to cover. Also, OEMs may no longer want to service older equipment and independents can meet that need.
ISOs are valuable to health care because they may be able to offer faster response and do so at a lower cost.
Many attendees at the meeting complained that the OEMs refuse to share maintenance and calibration software.
The 800 pound question in the room was: How can the OEMs lobby for more over-site and not be willing to share maintenance and calibration software?
Another topic discussed at the meeting was cyber security. Everyone had the impression that this is a very important topic in Washington. Another 800 pound question was: How can independent service firms be cyber secure without access to maintenance and calibration software.
I am confidant that — because we have succeeded in making people live longer and because there are more people alive today — the need for independents is going to grow and not shrink.
1. Independent Service firms will experience more over site.
2. The ISO will be better as a result
3. OEMs will provide support to these ISOs
4. The bottom line of the OEMs and ISOs will grow.
5. Providers and patients will benefit.
Note that I predict both more over site and more OEM support.
I also want to point out that when I looked around the room the average years in service of the IAMERS attendees was 20 years. These people fill a need, they serve under served markets, service older machines and do so at a better price.
The voters won't be happy if they disappear.
Phil is a member of AHRA, HFMA, AAMI and the Cryogenic Society of America. He has contributed to a number of magazines and journals and has addressed trade groups.
Phil's proudest achievement is that he has been happily married to his wife Barbara since 1989, who helped him found DOTmed in 1998.